Stances of Faiths on LGBTQ Issues: Humanism

Background

Often viewed as an alternative to traditional denominations which are centered on religious creeds, Humanism is a worldview built on a system of ethics that has, at its core, a respect for all human beings. The American Humanist Association (AHA), calls Humanism “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.” The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) further describes Humanism as being “based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities.” Intent on addressing issues of social justice, Humanists believe that it is possible to be “good without God,” that morality and good behavior can be practiced without belief in a deity.

With its roots in Greek philosophy, Humanism also draws on the traditions of medieval Islam and the Italian Renaissance, which were similarly based on the values of learning and reason. The word, however, was not coined until the 19th Century, and reflects that period’s increasing focus on the sciences. Today, Humanism finds its formal representation in national and international organizations and their many local chapters. In addition to the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union quoted above, there is the Council for Secular Humanism and the American Ethical Union, among others.

LGBTQ Equality

On Inclusion

Humanists, today, are committed advocates for LGBTQ equality, and uphold every person’s right to act as their nature dictates. In 2010, the American Ethical Union’s assembly resolved that, “Ethical Humanism reaffirms its support for equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer people.”

In addition to the inclusive stance noted above, Humanist organizations advocate specifically for transgender individuals. Among other efforts, the American Humanist Association recently partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union to work for equitable treatment of transgender people employed by the Social Security Administration.

On Marriage Equality

In 2004, the American Humanist Association adopted a resolution stating that the organization “reaffirms the validity of sexual equality and supports local, state and federal action to legalize same-sex marriage.” All Humanist organizations continue to advocate for marriage equality.

On Ordination

Humanist organizations designate Secular or Humanist Celebrants who are available to officiate at weddings, memorials and baby namings. There are no restrictions for LGBTQ individuals who wish to become Celebrants.

On Employment

Leading Humanist organizations in the United States have been vocal in their support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In response to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s granting of federal protection against discrimination for transgender individuals, Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, stated, “No one should suffer from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Next Steps

The welcoming and affirming stance adopted by Humanist groups in the United States provides an example for similar communities to follow. Recognizing that the challenges facing their LGBTQ members affect the entire human race, Humanists consistently use that stance as a foundation for hands-on work in the struggle for equality.

Resources for LGBTQ Humanists

  • LGBTQ Humanist Council, a project of the American Humanist Association, is a forum for LGBTQ Humanists and allies to come together, build community, exchange ideas, promote the humanist philosophy and values, and work together to achieve full social and civil eq/ality of LGBTQ persons.

Contact Information

American Humanist Association
1777 T Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009-7125
Website: www.americanhumanist.org

Last revised: 10/29/2014